Review by Jo Lloyd and photos by Lisa Billingham
A massive backlog of fans attempting to get into the arena through the tight security resulted in a somewhat meagre crowd as Aussies Twenty Two Hundred took to the stage at 7pm. At least, that’s what I think they were called considering the number of times the singer told us! With very little stage presence, they struggled to get any kind of crowd participation and unfortunately they fell a little flat. I can possibly see them work on a smaller more intimate stage, where their blues and sleaze tinged rock will clearly thrive, but the LG was just too big for them.
While the Twenty Two Hundred lacked showmanship, Midlands born Glenn Hughes’ latest incarnation California Breed certainly made up for it. Bounding straight in with ‘The Grey’ with tremendous gusto, it was a shame there weren’t more people there to witness them. With 24 year old axeman Andrew Watt bouncing around the stage on ‘Sweet Tea’ and continuing their assault with ‘Spit You Out’ Hughes has done an incredible job in handpicking his cohorts. With ex Queens of the Stone Age drummer Joey Castillo now on board, they are a force to be reckoned with. Closing their set with a lightening fast rendition of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ successfully raised the spirits of the crowd in anticipation of Slash, Miles and co.
The house lights dimmed, the circus themed intro music kicked in and the crowd went wild as the main attraction took their places. Although not quite sold out, the standing area was rammed from front to back all cheering for the Stoke born legend. Kicking straight in with ‘You’re A Lie’ from Apocalyptic Love, followed by ‘Nightrain’ showed just how versatile Miles Kennedy’s vocals are as he took on several other Guns ‘n’ Roses covers throughout the set. ‘Wicked Stone’ from new album World on Fire was particularly memorable as it built to its breathtaking crescendo.
The familiar intro to ‘You Could be Mine’ saw another Guns song unleashed on the crowd as Kennedy’s incredible vocal range conquered it with ease. Soon came an undeniable highlight as Slash welcomed Glen Hughes and Motorhead’s Phil Campbell to the stage to embark on an incredible bluesy jam of ‘Hey Hey Hey Hey! (Goin’ Back To Birmingham)’. Hughes then left Campbell to accompany the Conspirators in a blistering version of ‘Ace of Spades’ seeing bassist Todd Kerns take vocal responsibility! Hughes and Campbell weren’t the only celebs in tow as rock legend Tony Iommi watched from near the sound desk and TV presenter Suzi Perry was also spotted. ‘Rocket Queen’ saw us treated to a whopping near fifteen minute guitar solo where Slash incorporated so many different techniques it would leave even the most accomplished guitarists open mouthed.
The crowd’s excitement was at a peak as Velvet Revolver’s ‘Slither’ came to an end, knowing that as the band left the stage there was still one final Guns classic that was yet to be played. Barely a minute after exiting, the crowd went predictably wild when the opening line to ‘Paradise City’ kicked in, bringing the two hour party to a close. Slash and his band performed an incredibly tight and technically perfect set, the only downside for me was possibly too much of a reliance on the Guns tracks, but this is a tiny gripe at the end of an amazing show!